A social media page is a great start towards an online presence. But it’s just that – a start. We often speak to pharmacists who say they have a Facebook page, and therefore don’t need a website, online store or other online presence. Today, we’re going to explore that point of view, and explain why you need a website as well as a social media page.

A direct connection

Social media providers are great, because lots of your customers will already be using these services. This means it can be easier to reach your customers, as you’re in the same digital “room” as them. What’s more, a social media page lets you offer features like having customers post comments and reviews, as well as interact with each other. It’s handy to have access to these features without having to build them yourself.

But all this comes at a cost. In exchange for this easy access to customers, social media providers essentially become a gatekeeper between you and your customers. For example, if you post on your Facebook page, it won’t appear in many of your followers’ feeds – unless you pay to promote the post. There’s no way around this, because Facebook ultimately controls your communication with your customers.

On top of this, social media trends change over time. How many of your customers are still using Bebo or MySpace? So if you build an audience on one platform, and that platform becomes less popular, you essentially lose your audience. You don’t want to be at the whims of peoples’ social media tastes, because these tastes change all the time.

Your own website, on the other hand, is a channel that you entirely control. If you add a banner to your home page, or post on your blog, everyone on your website can see it – there’s nobody in between your customers and your content.

So while a social media page is a great place to connect with customers, you’ll be better off if you use social media to drive these customers to your website, as that’s a channel you control.

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You can only do so much on social media

As we said above, social media platforms have some great features that would be very complicated to develop on your own. But they are missing some key features that every pharmacist needs to succeed at selling online.

The most important example of this is the (lack of) an ability to add and update product listings. Basically, you can’t do it! If you want to sell something through a social media page, the best you can do is write a post about it. There’s no way for people to read that post, then go through to a checkout and pay you for the product.

So selling through social media alone creates friction that you don’t need. If you post about a product you’re selling, interested customers then need to contact you, wait to hear back, then pay and give their shipping address. Or they may need to come into the store.

A website, on the other hand, gives you the ability to manage this entire transaction without touching it. People see the product they want, click “buy,” then put in their payment details. You may ship it to them, or they may come into the shop and collect it. Either way, it’s a much easier experience for both you and your customers, which makes them more likely to spend their money buying the things you have to sell.

Searches, searches, searches

Think of the last time you searched for something online. Did you fire up Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Probably not – you probably started at Google and searched for what you needed.

When you did that, the results probably favoured things outside of social media pages. It’s a lot easier for Google to “crawl” regular websites than it is to crawl social media platforms, so there tends to be a bias in results towards regular websites.

Your customers are no different from you in this respect. If they need something, they’ll probably search for it. And if you have a website, you’ll be more likely to come up in these searches. So it makes sense for you to be where your customers are looking by having a website.

Where to from here?

Does this mean you should shut down your pharmacy’s Facebook page? Absolutely not! Social media pages are a great way to connect with your customers, share interesting stories and ask your customers questions. After all, your customers are on social media, so it makes sense to meet them where they are.

But to get the most value out of your social media page, you need to have a website as well. Your social media page can send people to your website, but your website should be their final destination. It’s easier to find, it has the specific features you need as a pharmacist, and it lets you communicate directly with your customers. A website doesn’t replace a social media page – rather, it makes it more powerful than ever!

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